We are about two weeks from where nearly every team will have played half its 82-game regular-season schedule. So now is a good time to check on updated NBA MVP odds at sportsbooks and see if there's good betting value to be had.
We Have a New Favorite
Cleveland's LeBron James was the heavy NBA MVP favorite at sportsbooks to start the season, especially when reigning league MVP Kevin Durant was sidelined with his broken foot. It was hard to find fault with that, but I didn't think James was good value at even money or even shorter odds because of a possibly bumpy transition to his new Cleveland Cavaliers teammates.
James has excellent numbers, averaging 25.2 points, 7.6 assists and 5.3 rebounds. The scoring average is his lowest since James' rookie season, but the assists would rank No. 2 in his career. James' rebounds were bound to go down some because he played a lot of power forward with Miami but has largely stayed at small forward with the Cavs. Plus James lost a lot of weight.
LeBron missed his fifth straight game Monday with back and knee injuries, and he's expected out two more weeks. That obviously could hurt his MVP chances, as do Cleveland's struggles under embattled first-year coach David Blatt. James is now the second favorite on NBA odds at +275.
Your new leader (James is still ahead at some books) is Houston's James Harden at +260. It's well-deserved as Harden leads the NBA in scoring by a wide margin (sort of, see below). He's a big reason the Rockets have perhaps played better than expected because of multiple games missed by Dwight Howard and a couple of other Houston starters due to injury. Harden hasn't missed a game. He's also averaging career highs in assists (6.6 per game) and rebounds (6.0). Harden was somewhere between +2000-+3000 to win MVP back when the season started at various sportsbooks.
The third favorite is Golden State's Stephen Curry at +300. He leads the team with the NBA's best record in scoring (23.1 points per game), assists (7.8 per game) and steals (2.1). Curry has a career-best player efficiency rating of 26.92 and leads the NBA in real plus-minus and total plus-minus. Curry even has improved his defense. He'll never be a lockdown guy, but he's not a liability any longer. Obviously the Warriors' success will boost Curry's chances.
Next is New Orleans' Anthony Davis at +400. He's second in the NBA with a PER of 31.50. Davis, just 21, is fourth in the NBA in scoring (23.9 ppg), ninth in rebounding (10.5 rpg) and No. 1 in blocks (2.91 bpg). In my opinion, he's been the league's best player thus far, but Davis is penalized because the Pelicans are just an average team. Without Davis, they are probably the Knicks. If he can get New Orleans into the playoffs, Davis deserves this award. He's going to win at least one MVP before he's done barring injury.
Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook is +1000. He has the NBA's best PER at 31.74. Westbrook is averaging a career-high 27.3 points and would lead the league if hadn't missed so many games with his broken hand. He will qualify soon, however. Westbrook is putting up all those points in just 31 minutes a night. That's outstanding. Can he stay healthy? Will teammate Kevin Durant (+1100) steal MVP votes from him? Durant doesn't deserve to repeat as MVP because he has missed too many games with injuries.
The favorites are rounded out by Memphis center Marc Gasol at +1100 on NBA odds. He has picked a great season to have his best year as Gasol will be a free agent this summer. Many teams covet him, but Gasol has deep ties to Memphis and the Grizzlies can pay him the most. Gasol is averaging a career-high 20.0 points along with 8.2 rebounds and 1.7 blocks. He remains a tremendous passer and defender as well. Just not sure a Memphis Grizzlies player gets enough national buzz to win an MVP Award.
NBA Free Pick: I like Curry at these odds to add with our NBA picks. If the Warriors finish with the league's best record, then he deserves the MVP and should get it if he stays healthy.